The Ministry of the Environment and UPM have agreed upon compensation for the Natura 2000 sites and areas designated for protection under national conservation programmes in UPM's forests in Kainuu, Finland. The State will purchase approximately 380 hectares from UPM for nature protection purposes. The protected areas are situated in Losonvaara in Sotkamo and in Humalalampi in Paltamo. Moreover, UPM has agreed to privately protect approximately 330 hectares of its own land in Kainuu in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act. The total value of the agreement is €3.4 million. Part of the purchase price will be covered by a land exchange procedure.
The largest of the privately owned protected areas is Kokkamo-Kylmäjärvi in Kuhmo, covering about 220 hectares. This scenically valuable esker ridge site is home to esker lakes which range from dark-water marshy ponds to clear pools of groundwater. Many of the pools in the almost undisturbed area are surrounded by swamps.
With its woody swamps and undisturbed hill-top forests, the most environmentally significant and valuable area is Losonvaara in Sotkamo. A major part of the area lies at an altitude of over 300 metres and it includes many different types of natural woody swamps.
Paula Lehtomäki, Minister of the Environment, is pleased that the agreement was reached: "We have now managed to protect areas with nationally important nature values. The undisturbed sites and the esker ridge areas are a valuable addition to the protection of biodiversity in Finland. I am also pleased that the lengthy negotiations with UPM have led to such a positive end result.
"The negotiations took a long time. We are satisfied that we have now reached an agreement on the protected areas in our Kainuu forests," says Jorma Saarimaa, UPM's Director of Land Use and Real Estate. "Negotiations on the compensation for other Natura 2000 sites in UPM's forests can now be continued based on this agreement."
UPM owns 900,000 hectares of forest in Finland, of which 770,000 hectares are used for forestry. The company has already allotted 17,000 hectares of land for nature conservation purposes by selling or exchanging land areas.